Philly businesses prepare for winter as pandemic struggles continue

With winter approaching, some restaurants think they'll survive, but they still have to make up for a year of lost revenue.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Now that Philadelphia is about a year and a half removed from the height of COVID-19, restaurant owners say they're dealing with the inverse problem of 2020.

"We have supply chain issues where almost everything we buy has gotten more expensive," said William Reed, co-owner of Johnny Brenda's in Fishtown. "Everyone is having a really hard time finding qualified help, especially line cooks."

And even though it may look like the restaurant business is bustling, owners emphasize it'll take a long time to recover.

"Because this is the first year after the COVID, I don't know what to expect," said Moon Krapugthong, the chef and owner of Chabaa Thai in Manayunk. "So I have a positive feeling on the side of the demand, but on my supply side, I have to deal with it day by day."

The restaurant industry is eagerly awaiting the possible approval of two bills introduced by Councilmember Allan Domb that would make outdoor dining permanent. At the moment, the outdoor dining structures will have to be removed at the end of the year.

SEE ALSO: Philadelphia councilmember pushing bill to make outdoor dining permanent
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"They'll have to be licensed every year, but we're trying to make this permanent because we think this is great," said Councilmember Allan Domb.



"It would be really unfortunate if these went away," said Ben Fileccia, director of operations and strategy for the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association. "Restaurants spent a lot of money to build these structures and the guests love them right now. With the delta variant, we're seeing a lot of guests are uneasy with dining inside, so it gives them that option to dine outside now."

And with winter approaching, some restaurants said they think they'll survive but they still have to make up for a year of lost revenue.

"The trend is way better and we're much happier about it but it's a long road to recovery," said Reed. "Everybody I know -- quite a few bar owners, quite a few restaurant owners -- everyone took a huge hit. You have a whole year of business missing and you don't make up for it in one summer."

Councilmember Domb's outdoor dining bills are currently assigned to the Streets Committee and are awaiting a hearing date. City Council expects that hearing date to occur in early November.

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